Friday, January 31, 2014

Food for Thought

{Ansel Adams}

It's only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.

~Margaret Bonnano
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spice It UP!!! Lentils

After making my lentil soup recipe the other day, I realized that I haven't done very much with lentils in a long time.  I don't know why I haven't....  They are a great source of protein and fiber with little fat plus they are filling and relatively inexpensive.  So I have decided to make them my first Spice It UP!!! topic in 2014!

{Brown lentils}

Lentils are part of the legume family.  Lentils have significant amounts of seven important minerals (like iron, folate, and potassium), B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat and just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils (just lentils and water).  The different lentil types offer varying consistencies with the brown and green ones better retaining their shape after cooking, while the others generally become soft and mushy. While the flavor differs slightly among the varieties, they generally feature a hearty dense somewhat nutty flavor. (source)

 {Lentils available at my local health food store}

Lentils are thought to have been one of the first agricultural crops with evidence that it was grown over 8500 years ago.  Lentils are thought to have originated in the Middle East and was traded along the Silk Road in ancient times.  India embraced the lentil as a staple food, and one of the country's most known dishes is dahl (also spelled dal).  Lentils grow best in arid climates, and most of the world's supplies are still grown in the Middle East.  (source)

lentils top view
{Top view of lentils}

When purchasing lentils, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage.  Store lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry cabinet.  Small rocks are common in pre-packaged lentils so make sure to look over them before actually using them.

Lentils have a 1:2 ratio typically (1 cup lentils to 2 cups liquid) for approximately 30 minutes.  Sometimes you'll need to add more liquid, and of course, it depends on the texture desired.  A firm texture will not cook as long or require as much liquid while a mushier texture will require longer cooking and more liquid.

Now for the good stuff!  The recipes!

Lentil Soup
Lentil and Chickpea Salad
Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew
Italian Lentil and Barley Stew

I know that this is a really sad list, but these are all fantastic recipes!  You can bet after this post, I am fired up about lentils!  So stay tuned to see some lentil recipes in February!

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Superbowl is this weekend, and although I won't really take part in the festivities, that doesn't mean I need much of an excuse to make buffalo chicken anything.  Now seemed like a fantastic time though!  This is perfect for a party because you just throw everything in a crock-pot and walk away!

shredded buffalo chicken sandwiches
{Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwich}

making sauce
{Making the sauce--yes I used a mason jar because my measuring cups were all dirty--don't judge!}

marinating buffalo chicken
{I made the sauce the night before and marinated the chicken in it}

shredded buffalo chicken sandwiches
{I sprinkle some extra blue cheese crumbles I had--delicious!}

shredded buffalo chicken wraps
{You could also make lettuce wraps with the shredded buffalo chicken}

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Serves 6

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
8 oz hot sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot--this was a bit on the spicy side so reduce and add broth if you don't like it too spicy)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Cheese (I like blue cheese with this!)
  1. Place chicken breasts in a crock-pot.
  2. Mix hot sauce, garlic, and spices together until well combined.
  3. Add sauce to crock-pot.
  4. Cook chicken on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. When chicken is done, shred with a fork.
  6. Mix milk and cornstarch together until dissolved.
  7. Add cornstarch mixture to shredded chicken and cook for another 30 minutes on high until thickened.
  8. Serve shredded buffalo chicken on buns with cheese.
If you are as obsessed with buffalo chicken as I am, I have a few more recipes.  If you want a healthy, cold salad see the recipe here, or if you prefer a dip (not very healthy but still delicious!) see the recipe here.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lentil Soup

Instead of our regular Tuesday Tip posting today, I am happy to say that I am participating in a link-up with some other blogs! 

January's challenge?  Make a soup in the crock-pot.  Definitely not a challenge!  I've been wanting to make our family's Lentil Soup recipe for a while now, and this was the push that I needed.

Lentil Soup
{Lentil Soup}

caramelized onions and garlic
{Saute onions and garlic until they brown on the edges (aka caramelize)}

ingredients in crock-pot
{Place ingredients in a crock-pot}

{This can be made vegetarian, but the hubby is stubborn and wants meat in everything!}

Lentil Soup
{Side view of the lentil soup}

One year ago: Quinoa Black Bean Bowl

Lentil Soup

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups lentils, washed
5 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
1 bay leaf
24 oz ham cubes and/or bones (I use both)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
  1. Place lentils, broth, parsley, carrots, celery, potato, bay leaf, and ham into a crock-pot.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat butter until hot.
  3. Add onions and garlic; saute until onions and garlic begin to brown on the edges.
  4. Add wine to de-glaze the pan; simmer for about 2 minutes or until reduced in half.
  5. Add onion mixture to crock-pot.
  6. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until lentils and potatoes are done.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve.
This recipe can be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth for vegetable broth and leaving out the ham.  This is a hearty-sick-to-your-bones soup, and this recipes makes a TON.  In fact, I have frozen most of it for those rainy days when I don't feel like cooking.  Serve by itself or with a grilled cheese sandwich!

Tuesday Tip will be back next week!  Tomorrow's recipe will be a delicious recipe for Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (seriously ate this for three days! so delicious!).

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Chicken Soup for the Ickies

When someone requests a recipe, I am more than happy to help!  Especially when it's my magical healing chicken soup recipe.  I only make this when I, or a loved one, is sick or not feeling well.  I always make sure to have everything on hand too.  That just makes it really easy to whip up because when you are not feeling well, you don't want to stand there and chop everything up....

Chicken Soup for the Ickies
{Chicken Soup for the Ickies}

Cooking chicken soup
{Cooking chicken soup.  I make sure to have everything on hand, just in case!  I chop carrots and celery and keep them in the freeze for all my recipes, but especially this one!}

Ready to chop chicken for soup
{After simmering for 1 hour, it's time to chop the chicken}

Chopped chicken for soup
{Chopped chicken for soup}

Chicken soup side view
{Chicken soup side view}

Chicken soup bite size view
{Chicken soup bite size view}

There have been studies as to whether or not chicken soup really does heal sickness.  In my humble opinion, anything made with love and care will heal sickness.  It's important to pour love into this recipe!  (That's what makes it so delicious!)

I also don't put noodles or rice in my chicken soup.  I try to restrict my carb intake, but if you would like to add one of them, please feel free!

Chicken Soup for the Ickies

Serves 6

2 quarts chicken broth
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
Noodles or rice, optional
  1. Place all ingredients except noodles or rice, in a large pot.
  2. Simmer for 1 hour (aka steaming not boiling!).
  3. Take chicken out and chop into bite-sized pieces.  Be careful!  Chicken will be hot!
  4. Place chicken back into pot and stir.
  5. Serve (with more pepper if you wish!).
This is an original recipe from me.  I'm very proud of this one because the flavors are so delicious!  Even the hubby who doesn't like soup (it's not a meal!) had two bowls of this soup and didn't complain one bit that it was "just soup".  He doesn't get sick too often, but when he does, this is the first meal he requests.

I hope that you don't have to use this for sickness, just for sheer pleasure!  If you do, get well soon!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms

Again with the garlic....  I know that I might have a problem, but how could I pass this up?  An easy side dish to a meal--just throw the ingredients together and put it in the oven which in turn makes the kitchen nice and toasty.  It's even healthy!  (Yes--fats are healthy especially when you use real butter and in moderation of course!)

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
{Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms}

Mushrooms and Garlic
{Mushrooms and garlic}

Mushrooms garlic butter
{Ready to go into the oven}

roasted mushrooms
{Ready to eat!  Well with the addition of parsley and lemon juice}

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
from smitten kitchen

Serves 4

1 pound mushrooms (cremini or white), halved lengthwise if large
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional or used as garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Toss mushrooms, garlic and oil together.
  3. Place mushrooms in a baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast 15-20 minutes or until tender and garlic sauce forms below the mushrooms.
  5. Serve.
I left the capers out because I didn't have any, and I can only guess that I didn't add lemon juice or large quantity of parsley because these smelled so delicious that I completely forgot.  I only added it because it made it look pretty (you know... as an effort to make my pictures prettier!).  It's delicious without it, or you can try it with the lemon juice and large amount of parsley.  You can bet that I will make this again, and again, and again....  You get the picture!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Salad

I have a slight obsession with Buffalo Chicken.  Not only wings, but salads, flavor, etc.  My brother found a delicious Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip which is so delicious!  My mom keeps everything on hand to whip it up quick whenever a hankering occurs.  So it shouldn't surprise anyone that I have several Buffalo Chicken recipes to try including sliders (in the crock-pot!) and Buffalo Cauliflower (a healthy and vegetarian option!) plus this cold salad was on the list!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
{Buffalo Chicken Salad served in a wrap--yes that was my lunch, and yes, I eat disgustingly healthy like this most of the time!}

{Ingredients gathered for the salad}

Buffalo Chicken Salad
 {Buffalo Chicken Salad}

Buffalo Chicken Salad
{Buffalo Chicken Wrap}

This salad is made healthier with the use of Greek plain yogurt rather than mayo or cream cheese.  I didn't miss it, and neither did my mom who I reluctantly shared this salad with.  Thankfully, the hubby could care less about this flavor which means more for me!

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 pound chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2 oz ranch dressing
2 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup your favorite hot wing sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve with crackers, on a wrap, with a spoon, etc.
Adding both carrots and celery is an option.  If you don't like carrots then double the celery or vice versa.  I love both so I had both.

Is there a specific ingredient or flavor that you are obsessed with and would try any way, even a healthy way?  I'd love to hear them!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chipotle Pork Roast

I've been having a difficult time making potatoes and carrots in the crock-pot.  I'd leave it on "warm" (my lowest setting equivalent to "low"), and they would never be done so I would have to turn it to "high" for an hour or two (if I was lucky).  I don't know why I didn't think to just leave it on my "low" setting (more of a medium) and stuff those hard vegetables on the bottom with the meat floating on top.  It was perfection--meat tender and veggies done!

Chipotle Pork Roast
 {Chipotle Pork Roast}

Rub mix on pork roast
 {Rubbing the spice mix on the pork roast}

Chipotle Pork Roast
{Place on top of veggies and top with chipotles!}

Chipotle Pork Roast
from Betty Crocker

Serves 4

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2-3 pound pork roast
3 small sweet potatoes, diced
6 small potatoes, diced
1 onion, cut into large chunks
2-8 oz can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotles in adobe sauce, minced (wear gloves!)
2 tablespoons beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
  1. Spray a crock-pot with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix spices together in a small bowl until well combined.
  3. Rub spice mixture on all sides of the pork roast; set aside.
  4. Mix both potatoes, onions, and tomato products in a large bowl.
  5. Add spice mix to potato mix and stir until well combined.
  6. Place potato mixture in the crock-pot.
  7. Place pork roast on top of potatoes.
  8. Spread chipotle peppers on pork roast.
  9. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until potatoes are done.
  10. Mix broth and cornstarch together until dissolved.
  11. Add cornstarch to liquid in crock-pot to finish the sauce.
  12. Serve.
I was terribly afraid that this would be unbelievably spicy!  However, as long as you don't eat the chipotle, you should be fine!  The chipotle does impart flavor onto the pork roast without the spice.  This was so delicious!  In fact, I've probably eaten it for lunch a few times (it made a lot!)!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

Maybe I should rededicate this blog to all things garlic.  Why?  There are seriously few recipes that do NOT have garlic in them, desserts being the exception of course.  I tried a garlic chocolate chip cookie once--never again!  Hmmm...  Garlic Girl... Garlic and Good Eats.....  Girl Obsessed with Garlic... 

40 Clove Garlic Chicken
{40 Clove Garlic Chicken}

garlic cloves
{Did I actually count them?  No, but I did use about 4 heads of garlic!}

caramelized chicken and garlic cloves
{Caramelized chicken and garlic cloves}

Garlic sauce
{Delicious garlic sauce}

One year ago:  Pumpkin and White Bean Stew

40 Clove Garlic Chicken
from myrecipes

Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
2-3 pounds chicken thighs, skinless
40 cloves whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
  1. Heat oil in skillet until hot.
  2. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper.; add chicken to hot pan.
  3. Sear chicken until nice and golden brown; remove chicken from pan and place in a crock-pot.
  4. Add garlic to hot skillet and saute until garlic begins to brown.
  5. De-glaze pan with white wine; add broth, pepper and thyme.  Boil for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add sauce to crock-pot.
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is done.
  8. Make a roux with butter and flour to thicken the garlic sauce.
  9. Serve.
Do you have a favorite spice or ingredient that you are a bit obsessed over?

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Food for Thought

 {Snow collecting on a KY stone fence}

Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that can happen to me.  

~Zen and the Art of Happiness

Let me tell you--2014 has not been my year so far.  Every day seemed to bring a new horror or crisis that needed to be dealt with.  On Tuesday, I was so unbelievably stressed that I went home right after work and cried--seriously.  I laid in bed, cried, and drank some wine.  

My mother shared the above quote with me, and I basically told her that was garbage.  After a few days of normalcy and family time, I am beginning to get back to my positive, non-stressed self.  

Maybe those events were the best possible things that could happen to me, but in the moment, it didn't feel like it.  Why am I rambling?  Because it's Friday; it's snowing, and I am having lunch without having to do work at the same time.  Small victories, my friends.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

White Bean and Ham Bone Soup

I like simplicity.  Using a ham bone is a necessity since most of the flavors are drawn from the marrow.  Slow cooking this recipe just drew out everything that could be drawn out.  I haven't had an oh-good-gosh-eyes-rolling-in-the-back-of-the-head-from-the-delicious-flavors recipe in a few days (okay maybe a few hours, but only because I had leftovers!). 

White Bean and Hamp Bone Soup
{White Bean and Ham Bone Soup}

{Chopping ingredients}

{The secret is to caramelize the ingredients to impart that deep flavor!}

{De-glaze the pan with white wine}

{Place in crock-pot}


One year ago:  Chana Masala

White Bean and Ham Bone Soup

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced (about 3 stalks)
1 cup carrots, diced (about 3)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cans Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 each ham joint with some meat on it
6 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Green onions (optional for garnish)
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet until hot.
  2. Caramelize the onions, carrots, and celery until browned on the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, place beans, ham joint, and broth in a crock-pot.
  4. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. De-glaze the pan with white wine.
  6. Add onion mixture to crock-pot.
  7. Add bay leaves and pepper.
  8. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  9. Serve with green onions if desired.
Served with a grilled cheese sandwich, this is definitely a keeper for those cold, wintery nights!

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Southwest Chicken Casserole

It's been a clean-out-the-cupboards type of month.  You know--you buy ingredients with the best intentions of making them (like the 4 cans of chickpeas I have to try and roast them for a healthy chip alternative), but you don't ever get around to making them?...  Yeah...  I make up dishes sometimes which turn out to be DELICIOUS like this recipe!  (The hubby ate the ENTIRE casserole....  I think he loved it!)

{Southwest Chicken Casserole which I topped with cilantro and green onions}

{Cook chicken in broth then use the same broth to cook the rice!}

{Adding ingredients together}

{Mixed ingredients}

{Place in a casserole dish and bake!}

{Southwest Chicken Casserole}

Southwest Chicken Casserole

Serves 6

1 pound chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
4 cups chicken broth (plus possibly more)
1 cup uncooked rice (soak it beforehand to make cooking quicker)
8 oz frozen corn
15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup sour cream
4 oz green chilies
1 cup salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cups shredded cheese
Toppings like cheese, sour cream, cilantro and green onions
  1. Place chicken and broth in a large pan on medium; cook chicken until done.
  2. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
  3. Add rice to chicken broth and cook until done; adding more broth as necessary.
  4. Meanwhile, mix corn, beans, cooled chicken, sour cream, chilies, salsa, cumin, chili powder, and cheese together.
  5. If making this the night before, cool rice before adding to the chicken mixture.  If making this immediately, then add hot rice.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and pour chicken and rice mixture into pan.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is slightly browned.
  9. Serve with optional toppings.
Been noticing a Mexican theme here lately?  LOL  I just did!  I guess it's because of the warming spices like chili flakes and cumin.  It's always nice to have warm food on cold days!

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Tip: How to Brown Butter

Sorry for being MIA yesterday.  Mondays always seem to be super busy for me.  Today, we are talking about how to brown butter.  What do you brown butter for?  Not much in American cuisine.  India uses it more often, but consider browning butter to add flavor and depth.  Even if you only slightly brown it!

{Step 1:  Slowly melt the butter in a pan}

{Step 2:  Don't walk away!  This process only takes 3 minutes (approximately) and you don't want burned butter!}

{Step 3:  Butter fat should start to brown.  You should also start to smell something slightly nutty.  Don't walk away!}

{Step 4:  Pull butter off the heat as more butter fats get brown.  The butter will smell nice and nutty now!}

{Step 5:  Use as directed by the recipe} 

Some great recipes to try browned butter are Roasted Cauliflower with Brown Butter Bread Crumbs or Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats!  I haven't tried it yet, but my favorite food blogger, smitten kitchen, suggests using it in mashed potatoes instead of regular butter.  It's on my list to try!

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